• Published 30th Oct 2019
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A Deer Named John - Teapot Tales - Tael_Spinner

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Main Arc 1-Chapter 1: Run John Run

John

I tried. Oh, how I tried refusing to drink whatever mystical water was brewed in that so simple looking teapot! Being so completely restrained by the glow from the dark unicorn’s horn just made it impossible. I was still on the floor when the glow engulfed me. He didn’t bother moving me. I didn’t need separating from other humans. I was the last one here.

My sister and my friends, or what they had become, watched in silence as the spout of the teapot was forced between my lips. At least I think they did. It was hard to tell with their eyes hidden by their strange helmets.

All thoughts of things external slipped away as the liquid entered my mouth. It was warm, not scalding, nor did my throat struggle to stop it from heading towards my stomach. I felt a tickle and needed to cough. Some had definitely headed for my lungs.

I didn’t feel the glow release me. I only knew that it had because I slumped to one side and fell into a coughing fit, doing my best to rid my lungs and stomach of the liquid. As the warmth settled in my stomach, I knew that it was too late.

The warmth quickly spread throughout my body, racing to reach the furthest toe and fingertip before I felt the changes begin to take hold. As with all but William, the first change was the explosion of fur all over my body, shredding my clothing in its wake.

My hands and feet twisted and changed. Soon they resembled the split hooves of my now yak sister, though I didn’t seem to gain any of the mass she had. My body shifted to a form much smaller than hers. Like the others probably felt, a pain in my rear announced the arrival of some kind of tail.

The crown of my head ached then…

“Argh!”

Two spots of stabbing pain took the place of the ache.

Something— I grimaced at the pain. Something felt like it was tearing its way out on either side of my skull!

I tried to cry out but my attempts were muffled by the cracking of my bones. My neck, face and head all felt like they were stretching, changing to suit whatever beastly or monstrous form the teapot had chosen for me to take.

When it was finally over, all I could do was slump onto the floor. My new chest shuddered in heaving breath after breath.

I didn’t feel the restraint that came with the glow from the dark unicorn again. I don’t know why. After everything I had just witnessed and physically gone through, I was ready to simply accept my fate. Instead, he seemed to let me be.

Finding myself still able to move, I raised my head a little and turned my tired gaze toward the bars of the cage. There I saw the dark unicorn. He only regarded me for the briefest of moments, then snorted and turned his attention to the others, muttering in disappointment. “Can’t all be warriors.”

Puffing out his chest as best he could in plate armour, the dark unicorn drew himself up and addressed my friends and sister. “All of you!”

His horn lit with magic again. I flinched until I noticed his magic permeating the lock of the cage. With a metallic click and groan of old iron, the door to our cage swung open.

“To the marshalling yard!”

“Yes, our King!” declared freshly minted yak, unicorn, bat pony and dragon alike. The dragon even saluted with a clawed hand while the bat pony did so with its leathery wing. They all filed out. William. Jacob. Schmidt. Even my sister Jackie gave no hint of a thought, nor a glance to my existence.

I watched them go, even as the cage door swung shut, silently begging for them to turn around and help me. Or, at the very least, run. Run from the dark unicorn and his strange teapot of transformation.

Once the next door, the one I couldn’t see, closed, I felt my body relax a little. Not from the safety of my sister and friends. But, from another thought. One which brought me only the smallest of comforts.

There would be no helmet for me. Clearly, I was unsuitable to the needs of the dark unicorn. With nothing else I could do, I let my head flop to the floor. I closed my eyes, did the best to curl my altered body into a ball, and cried.

* * *

I wasn’t sure when I had fallen asleep. I only knew that I had done so. My body still ached. I snorted to myself. Not really a surprise. Opening my eyes, another non-surprise. I was still in that blasted cage. The one where…

I clenched my teeth and squeezed my eyes shut, fighting with the thoughts of the transformations I had both witnessed and undergone. I was breathing heavily by the time the memories subsided and a new one took its place.

How long was I here?

My stomach suddenly let out a nasty growl.

Ungh! I could feel it twisting and churning. Wasn’t someone going to bring me any food? Aren’t there laws about such things?

I frowned. Considering what my friends and I had already been through, it was doubtful I was even in our world anymore. And, even more unlikely, human laws didn’t really matter here.

Looking around the dimly lit cage, I found myself thankful to now have some kind of low light vision as I spotted a patch of moss growing on one of the damper parts of the floor. Seeing nothing else on offer, I turned my head and found myself glad to have been transformed where I had fallen instead of across the room. At least it was in reach. And, if the moss had enough moisture to grow, maybe there would be enough to cool my parched throat?

I leaned forward, opened my mouth and took a bite of the moss. It only took a single chew for me to spit what little I had taken onto the floor.

“Bleah! Tastes like­—”

My mouth snapped shut and my head darted back at such a dainty sound coming from my throat. Blinking as much of my surprise away as I could, I tentatively spoke again. “Fluffy tofu?”

I raised an eyebrow.

Really?! That’s my bleating voice?! I shook my head, frowning. Bleating? Seriously? I can’t swear? Even in my head? Well that’s petunias!

I threw back my head and groaned in aggravation. The continued sound of my voice didn’t exactly make me feel any better. I did however get a glimpse of the mirror in the ceiling. Or, more importantly, what I guessed must be my reflection in said mirror.

There was no really denying what I saw. After all, it was only a reflection of what was in the room. And, I was the only living thing there.

I let out a dejected sigh. Yeah…

Even so, at least I could tell what I was just from a glance. I was now a deer. A deer with pale tawny fur and a couple of white spots here and there on my rump. My body was surprisingly tapered, my neck proportionately slender, while my four long, skinny legs ended in dainty cleft hooves.

I had a slender snout, which I could see far easier than my former human nose. My new ears were free to swivel in nearly every direction next to two pert antlers on the very top of my head. Still, I think the oddest part about my new form was the little fluffy stumpy tail. I twisted my body and neck, surprised I could do so with such ease, and inspected my hindquarters. Such a small tail, barely enough to cover… My eyes widened at my discovery.

One of my ears twitched at a sound of a door opening. My attention snapped to the other side of the bars. Maybe someone was finally bringing me food? My gaze slowly wandered back to my flank. Anything to keep my mind off—

Let’s not go there!

Focusing back on the bars again, I felt my brow furrow in confusion at what shuffled into sight. The closest thing I could come to describe the creature I spied lumbering towards the door of my cage was some kind of… dog? Vaguely. I guess? Sure, its head appeared very canine in nature, but it had well defined arms, walked on its hind legs and wore an open, tattered vest. The creatures here were so weird! Merely the sight of it was enough to get my heart racing.

As it began to fiddle with the lock of the cage door, I could tell it was one of the dark unicorn’s followers. For one, it had keys. And two, it wore one of those strange helmets the others had been forced to wear. Its helmet was not unlike the one the dragon… No! William! The one William had had forced onto his head.

This strange canine’s mouth was free. It’s massive, powerful looking lower jaw hung open, easily wide enough for it to wrap around my new neck and lock down with the vicious teeth it displayed.

I gulped. My pupils shrank with terror. Why did I just think that?

The canine gave a breathy chuckle as the lock clicked and he hauled open the door.

Instinct kicked in. I rose to my hooves without even thinking and backed up a step. The canine lurched into the cage, its tongue dangling from the side of its mouth as it shuffled towards me, raising its clawed hands in readiness to grab at me.

I heard it chuckling under its laboured breath. My heart was pounding in my ears.

It lunged forward, snatching for me. Thankfully missing. I guess the narrow eyeslits of the helmet weren’t so helpful for seeing through.

I backed up as best I could, bending my neck away from the swipes of the beastly canine’s claws. Ducking his claws, I shrieked!

My rear hoof slipped on the moss I found earlier. I felt a pulse of energy burst out from me through my hooves and into the floor, throwing me off balance into the wall behind me.

A crystalline crack caught my ears, I looked up past the approaching canine in time to see a single crack in the glass of the mirror suddenly erupt into a spiderweb of smaller cracks covering its entire surface.

I blinked.

The glass façade of the mirror shattered and the glass rained down. It was oddly magical to watch, all those fragments of glass glinting and shimmering as they sprinkled toward the floor.

There came a terrible groan from somewhere in the ceiling above. Even the bipedal canine stopped and turned its head at the sound; its terrible jaws open as if in question.

Then the frame fell.

I quickly squeezed my eyes shut and turned my head away. A sharp ring of metal striking stone was quickly ripped from my ears by the sound of heavy metal landing on something so very squishy... followed by the sound of rocky rubble joining in the pile. I shuddered and cringed, but didn’t dare look.

Instead, I made sure to raise my head to stare at the ceiling. When at last I opened my eyes, I was greeted by the strangest sight. Not just the mound of rocks stretching up to a gaping hole in the ceiling, but a mess of thick roots which had grown out from between the gaps in the rocks of the floor, ceiling and walls. Peering a little closer, I could barely make out a little light at the farthest point of what I learned was actually a tunnel.

Taking a cautious approach, I paused to glance around the rubble-filled cage and the space beyond the bars, then at where the canine was buried. My heart was still beating oh so fast. If one came, maybe more would?

My jaw tightened as I gasped in a breath through my teeth. Maybe even the dark unicorn.

My gaze shot to the rubble again. Especially after hearing that!

I turned to the hole in the ceiling above the rubble mound leading up to it. Then darted forward.

The roots parted easily as I pushed through. In fact, I barely felt them as I passed. Even the rubble was surprisingly sturdy, especially wherever I stepped. Strangely, it felt like it firmed up as my hooves began to sink as if something within the dirt was strengthening the ground just for me.

I shook my head. Thoughts for later. Escape now!

I forced my body into the opening of the tunnel. It was a tight squeeze, but, as with the rubble mound, it felt like I was being helped along by something in the earth itself. Clumps of soil broke off as I brushed against the walls of the tunnel, sending tiny rivers of soil trickling down my back and sides.

All in all, it probably only took me a few minutes to traverse the tunnel. And, once I was free and away from the hole, I widened my stance for balance then shook my body violently, spraying anything and everything around me with a shower of dirt.

Even with such skinny legs I felt rather well balanced as I finally stopped shaking and began to survey my surroundings. The first thing I noticed was the drizzle. Just my luck! At least it only appeared to coat the outer layer of my fur. Yay, I guess?

My eyes stung from what little light was allowed through the heavy clouds which covered much of the sky. I really wished I still had hands to shield my eyes, but squinting would just have to do.

From what I could see, I had emerged near the peak of one of many in a series of rocky hilltops stretching out in either direction. I let out another sigh at the seemingly desolate nature of where I had found myself. At least I was out of the cage.

My ears flicked back and a chill ran up my spine as a distant rumble of thunder reached me. I shuddered, staring across the rocky landscape towards the storm on the horizon. I turned my head in search of somewhere to go. In the opposite direction of the storm I spied some greenery. It was a little hard to tell if it was grass or a forest at this distance, but at least it was a sign of life, if not food for the growling stomach of this probably now strictly herbivore body of mine.

Squaring myself up, I threw a hoof forward. When it met the ground again, it found a particularly slippery rock and, being unused to my new body, I promptly slipped and landed in the mud between the rocks.

I snorted in annoyance then grumbled bitterly to myself as I lay with my chest, chin and throat in the muck. I really hate having hooves and four spindly legs!

“Sure-footed, my pattootie!” I muttered to myself. My voice still sounded so sing-songy in my ears. “I ain’t no mountain goat.”

Returning to my hooves, I paid a lot more attention to my balance as I started down the side of the hill. I flinched at a sudden bright flash and froze. Had the dark unicorn found me and lit his horn again?

Another rumble of thunder, much louder and closer than before. I let out a shuddering breath. Glanced over my shoulder at the approaching storm, turned back to my path and started down the hill a bit faster than before; my pace increasing with every step.

Okay, John. Just keep going. Just keep going!

I trotted cautiously down the rocky slope glistening from the rain, breaking into a gallop when I reached the bottom. Where I was going exactly, I had no idea. This world was clearly not my own. Even without a clear direction, my motivation sat at the very front of my mind. I needed help. Not just for me, but to save my now not so little sister, her friend, and mine. Maybe even get some help in finding a way back home to our human bodies? Not to mention the lives we had accidentally left behind.

I galloped onward, only slipping in my step on rare occasions as my movements would soon become second nature.

For now, I would become John the Doe. I instantly stuck out my tongue and screwed up my face in distaste at the thought. No, I was a Deer named John.

Author's Note:

During the preparation for writing this, amongst the terrible puns, I was reminded of the song, A Boy Named Sue.

Yep. Never intended this when I came up with Spot of Tea, Change for Me!, but, I guess, never say never.

I can actually see a couple of stories out of this just not exactly what they are yet. If I can get to those other stories, we will spend time with the other four members as well.

Do I have other things I should be doing? Yes. Do I have other things I should be writing first? Yes. Do I also like writing free-flowing pieces from time to time just for fun? Also yes.